Holiday Pet Safety

Tips for a Happy and Healthy Winter Season

Being mindful of the dangers this upcoming season can pose to our furry friends may help them have a happy holiday and a safe winter. It’s actually the best gift we can give them. Veterinarians Dr. Naomi Kitagaki and her business (and life) partner Dr. Adam Stone, are familiar with challenges for pets. After working in an emergency setting for a number of years, the two bought Bend Animal Emergency and Specialty Center this past August, and improved on the services it offers. “In only a short time, we have doubled the size of the hospital and added on overnight shifts,” says Dr. Stone. “We have six doctors and a cardiologist, and we’re building up the surgical side. We also perform ultrasounds for the primary care vets in town.” Here, Drs. Kitagaki and Stone share advice on how to keep our pets safe during the holiday and winter season.

“The weather isn’t as nice so pets tend to be inside more, and we get more toxicities,” says Dr. Stone. “Maybe they ingested a medication or ate a turkey carcass out of the garbage.” So, keep these items out of reach. Also, keep in mind that chocolate is toxic to dogs, “One of the big problems during Christmas is people will wrap up boxes of chocolate or baked goods and place them under the tree, which the dog then breaks into,” says Dr. Kitagaki.

Another issue, especially for cats, are the ribbons and string used to wrap presents. Eating these can cause internal injuries and are a true emergency which often ends with surgical interventions. Instead, keep these specially wrapped gifts someplace safe. Also dangerous for cats are the holiday plants and flowers that add a festive look to our homes, such as poinsettias and others. “Lilies, for example, can be incredibly toxic to cats,” says Dr. Stone. “Someone might receive a bouquet and not realize they’re in there or don’t know they can be dangerous. Be sure to keep them in a safe spot. If pet owners aren’t sure what plants or flowers are toxic, they can go to the ASPCA website, adds Dr. Kitagaki.

The great outdoors can also be problematic, especially when there’s snow and ice on the ground. “The most common injuries we see this time of year are in dogs that slip on ice, especially older and overweight dogs,” says Dr. Stone. The ice and the snow can also cling to their paws, so Dr. Kitagaki recommends keeping the hair on their feet trimmed short or having them wear booties. Salt and de-icers can cause irritation as well, so it’s best to wipe off their paws with a wet cloth as soon as they come inside.

Another common injury they see in dogs are lacerations from their owners’ skis and snowboards. Dr. Stone advised to train your dogs to stay far away when you’re taking part in these activities. Also, watch for early signs of hypothermia like shivering when a dog is playing outside. The amount of time dogs can spend outside depends on the breed and the exercise tolerance of the dog, explains Dr. Kitagaki. Remember, if you’re cold, your dog is probably cold too.

“The one thing pet owners can do to make sure their pets stay well is to buy pet insurance, because emergency vet care is expensive and a lot of our clients are unprepared for the cost,” says Dr. Stone. “Most people don’t know it exists and it usually costs less than a monthly cell phone bill. It’s also a nice holiday gift for people who have pets.”

Bend Animal Emergency and Specialty Center

1245 SE 3rd St., Suite C-3, Bend



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